Short sea shipping

Not all shipping containers that move through the Port of Vancouver are bound for overseas destinations. Sometimes containers only need to cross short distances to and from deep-sea container terminals and regional container handling facilities. This method of cargo transport is called short sea shipping, and it relies on barges and waterways in and around the port to complement the use of container trucks in transporting containers over short distances around the region.

With our mandate of enabling safe and efficient goods movement at the Port of Vancouver, we are taking steps to make short sea shipping available to terminals within our jurisdiction in order to improve the resilience of the Vancouver gateway.

Benefitting the region and the planet

As seen in other North American regions, the use of barges to move cargo across short distances has led to some increased trucking efficiencies. This is just one of the reasons why we’re working with industry stakeholders to advance the development of a dedicated common-user short sea shipping terminal and service to increase the sustainable movement of containers through the Port of Vancouver. The development of a short sea terminal and service for the movement of containers through the Port of Vancouver would complement the existing road and rail network and provide the following benefits:

Increase efficiencies of container trucking on provincial and regional roads, helping to alleviate congestion Support efficient use of scarce industrial land by moving container handling activities to areas of the region where land costs are lower Help manage growth in container trade by maximizing the use of container terminal capacity Decrease greenhouse gas emissions related to cargo movement

This work is supported by federal funding received from Transport Canada through the National Trade Corridors Fund in 2019. 

In 2020, we will be taking active steps to advance two initiatives:

Participating in industry’s establishment of a short sea shipping service connecting existing facilities

We are working with industry to develop an action plan for the establishment of a short sea shipping service to and from existing container handling facilities. This may include determining an operating model and potential locations, and identifying the infrastructure and equipment required to launch a commercially viable service.

Advancing the development of a dedicated common-user short sea shipping terminal

Building on engagement to-date, we will continue to work with industry, Indigenous groups, local governments and the community to help us establish a vision and define the parameters for a dedicated common-user short sea shipping terminal to serve the gateway in the long-term.

These parameters will form the basis of us seeking proposals for the scope, design, construction, and operation of a dedicated short sea shipping terminal.

We anticipate beginning a procurement process in 2021.


June 2020 update to industry